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The Super Senior: Hoopin’ and Hollerin’
(Jabari Parker and the Duke Blue Devils look to avenge their February 1st loss at the Carrier Dome. Joshua S. Kelly/USA TODAY Sports)
My condolences go out to fans of ‘Cuse as the Orange finally let one slip away at home against Boston College. I blame it on the uniforms. I have noticed a trend in college athletics when a team dons some fancy duds, the uniforms are the only thing that ends up looking good. For fans of college hoops, it does not get much better than this weekend. There are rivalry games, integral conference title implications, opportunities for revenge and chances of upset. I’ll breakdown the important games for tonight and weekend as well as provide you with your weekly dose of Super Senior Court vision.
(5) Duke @ North Carolina, Thursday – 9:00 PM ET – ESPN
What a rivalry between these two teams! In their last 85 meetings UNC has won 43 to the Blue Devils’ 42, however Duke has outscored the Tar Heels by a mere 2 points.This game features two of the hottest teams in college basketball. Since January 21st North Carolina (95.3) and Duke (94.8) rank 1st and 2nd in BPI.
I mentioned in an earlier article that if North Carolina could continue their torrid pace then their game against Duke could have some major implications. Since then, North Carolina has won 7 consecutive and (finally) host Duke tonight.
Marcus Paige has been on a tear recently averaging 18.8 points per game on 45 % shooting from 3 point land. In order to beat Duke, they will need James Michael McAdoo to improve upon his poor offensive performance against Florida State . McAdoo possesses the perfect size, strength and agility to keep up with Duke’s Jabari Parker defensively. Duke will need to get hot from the perimeter to win this game.
If North Carolina can prevent Rodney Hood, Rasheed Sulaimon and Andre Dawkins from getting good looks they would be in good position to pull this one out. It will be difficult to do so, as an unranked North Carolina team has not upset a top 5 Duke team since 1990. I expect another close one, that North Carolina edges out due to home court advantage.
North Carolina 78 Duke 76
(1) Syracuse @ (5) Duke, Saturday – 7:00 PM ET – ESPN
This could quite possibly be the last game Syracuse plays with the (1) indicator to the left of their name. After a difficult loss to Boston College, Jim Boeheim’s team has to go to Durham to take on the Blue Devils. With the loss to BC expect Syracuse to come out and play even harder to prove that the aforementioned loss was an aberration.
For Duke, this game is harder now then it was a few weeks ago. Due to inclement weather that postponed the game at North Carolina, they will only have 1 day of rest instead of 3 full days. If they can find a way to escape this week undefeated then you could argue that they are the best team in college hoops with little opposition.
If this one is close late, watch for Tyler Ennis to continue his clutch heroics. Going into the Boston College game in the final 5:00 of play he is 8-9 from the field, 14-14 at the free throw line and has 6 assists with 0 turnovers. He epitomizes what a play-maker should look like at this state in the game.
Boeheim is currently 2-1 against Coach K, but this will be the first time his squad has to endure the Cameron Crazies. Duke’s ability to play Syracuse so close at home proves they can hang with the Orange. A second look at the 2-3 zone and home court advantage makes me believe Duke will be ready to play this game.
Duke 69 Syracuse 62
(11) Louisville @ (7) Cincinnati, Saturday – 12:00 ET – CBS
Louisville has been searching for a signature win all season as they are 0-4 against top 25 teams. Saturday against Cincinnati they will have the opportunity to win not only against a top 10 team, but also avenge a home loss from earlier in the season. The winner of this game will be in the driver’s seat for the AAC regular season conference title, so both team’s will come out with a sense of urgency.
We have learned that Sean Kilpatrick will get his points. The Bearcats will need Justin Jackson to step up offensively. I have noted that he is significantly less aggressive in games that they lose, and the more efficiently he shoots, the better they play.
Ultimately, Louisville is a more experienced team and is more balanced. Cincinnati is 5th in the NCAA adjusted defense, but rans only 101st in adjusted offense. Louisville on the other-hand joins Florida and Syracuse as the 3 schools in the top 15 in both measures.
Louisville 66 Cincinnati 61
(19) Texas @ (8) Kansas, Saturday – 7:30 ET – ESPN U
The Kansas faithful applaud Andrew Wiggins for his put-back in Lubbock with 1.3 seconds left to drown the Texas Tech Red Raiders. Had the Jayhawks fell to Tech, their 10 consecutive regular season conference title streak could have been in serious jeopardy. Instead, Kansas won the game and holds a 2 game lead over the Longhorns in regards to the Big 12 title.
This is definitely a tough matchup for Kansas. Cameron Ridley spells trouble for Joel Embiid inside with his massive 285 lb frame. Texas is athletic, but not as quick as Kansas. Bill Self will try to run early and often to tire Texas out and use Kansas’ depth to their advantage.
Kansas has looked good at home all season and Texas has had recent road woes. Kansas rebounds off a poor performance against Texas Tech and shows Texas what Rock Chalk Jayhawk is really about.
Kansas 75 Texas 61
(16) Wiscinsin @ (15) Iowa, Saturday – 12:00 PM ET – ESPN 2
Iowa has all of the talent to make a deep run at the tournament. Wisconsin does not. Iowa is in the top 15 in points per game, rebounds and assists. Wisconsin is not even in the top 100. Wisconsin somehow has a better record than Iowa, but Iowa has looked slightly (slightly) more impressive in conference play.
The Big 10 has beat up on each other so much that both of these teams has a punchers chance of stealing the Big 10 regular season title. Wisconsin’s win at Michigan Sunday proved that they can win on the road in the Big 10, but their main problem has been consistency. Which Wisconsin team will we see on Saturday; the team that won 75-62 on the road in Ann Arbor, or the team that lost 65-56 to Northwestern.
Iowa took a 35-24 lead over the Badgers into halftime earlier in the season before giving up 51 in the 2nd half. Iowa will get a better showing from their bench and their depth alone in this game should be enough to suffice a victory.
Iowa 73 Wisconsin 65
(13) Michigan State @ (20) Michigan, Sunday – 12:00 PM ET – CBS
At full strength, these are two of the top teams in the nation. Injuries to Mitch McGary, Branden Dawson, Keith Appling, and Adreian Payne have caused these teams to lose more games than we expected. Michigan beat a short handed Spartans on January 25th in East Lansing by shooting 58% from 3 and at the free throw line. The Wolverines shot 83% on 30 shots at the charity stripe while Michigan State shot 70% on 23 shots.
The problem for Michigan is that over their past 5 games they are 2-3 have shot only 37% from 3 point land. In the 2 of those 5 games they won you ask? Michigan won. Classic tale of a team that lives and dies by the 3.
Michigan State has alternated wins and losses, beginning with the Michigan game. They cant seem to win two in a row for the life of them. Most of this has been credited to the Dawson “temper tantrum”. With Dawson in those games, Tom Izzo believes his team is 7-0 instead of 3-4 and already has the Big 10 decided. Instead, he is still questionable to return on Sunday against the heated rivals. Either way Michigan State has the perimeter defense to shut down Michigan from 3 and are smart enough to use create a gameplan that does exactly that.
Michigan State 77 Michigan 71
Super Senior Court Vision
1. Quick statistical comparison of two Big 12 players:
Player A: 16.2 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 44% FG%, 75% FT%, 34% 3 point %
Player B: 15.1 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 54% FG%, 84% FT%, 36% 3 point %
Player A is Andrew Wiggins and player B is Texas Tech’s Jaye Crockett. People who wonder how Texas Tech has played so well this season need to take into account just how well Crockett has played this season. As a graduate of Tech and someone who’s first year in Lubbock’s first year coincided with Crockett’s, it has truly been fun to watch him blossom into such a productive player.
2. Virginia is the best bet to win the ACC regular season championship. They have 3 easy victories and host Syracuse before the season’s end. They play the best defense in the ACC allowing only 89.3 points per 100 possessions. They are just experienced and clutch enough to give Syracuse fits on March 1st.
3. Creighton might be the reincarnation of the 2006 Gonzaga Bulldogs. Doug McDermott plays the role of Adam Morrison, only though Creighton is better. In the tournament they will pose a threat to teams like Syracuse and Florida due to their ability to shoot a high percentage from outside.
4. The Pac 12 is going to be an interesting tournament. Arizona has not been the same since Brandon Ashley’s injury and realistically they could lose to anyone now. An open tournament provides the perfect opportunity for a team like Colorado, Arizona State, California or even Stanford to boost their resume and cement their inclusion in the NCAA tournament.
5. Marcus Smart’s suspension has been served and he plays his first game back Saturday against Texas Tech, the team who he earned his suspension against. Smart’s services could not be more vital as Oklahoma State lost all 3 games he was absent for. Oklahoma State will need out and a little bit of luck to claw their way back into the big dance picture.
6. San Diego State’s loss at Wyoming should not be indicative of how good their squad is this year. Arena-Auditorium in Laramie, WY sits at 7,220 feet above elevation. Altitude like that is a harder opponent than the Cowboys and something the Aztec’s will not see the rest of the season.